M Sivasankar removed as Kerala IT Secretary
Kerala’s IT Secretary M Sivasankar has been removed from the post after reports emerged of his connection to the gold smuggling case in the state. He has been replaced by K Mohammad Y Safirulla, who is Additional Commissioner, State GST and Joint Secretary, IT.
The move comes hours after Sivasankar, a top IAS officer, was removed from his additional charge of Principal Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister by the state government. Mir Mohammad Ali, the Executive Director of Suchitwa Mission will hold the additional charge of Principal Secretary to the CM.
The bureaucratic shuffle comes after reports emerged of Sivasankar’s alleged connection to Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the gold smuggling case at the Thiruvananthapuram airport.
On Sunday, the airport officials seized Rs 30 kilograms of smuggled gold in a diplomatic bag. The bag was addressed to an officer of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram and the sender’s name was that of the officer’s wife. The gold which is reportedly worth Rs 15 crore was brought in a chartered flight from the Gulf. Following this, two names - Swapna Suresh and Sarith Nair - emerged in the case. Both are former employees of the UAE Consulate who had worked there until six months ago.
Swapna worked in the IT Department after her stint at the Consulate. She was reportedly appointed by Sivasankar as the operations manager at Space Park under the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITI), which comes under the IT Department. Sivasankar is the Chairman of KSITI and had held the charge of IT Secretary.
On Monday, Swapna was suspended from the department. She remains absconding while Sarith Nair is currently in the custody of the Customs Department.
According to sources at the Thiruvananthapuram airport customs, gold has probably been smuggled several times through diplomatic channels.
The gold seized on Sunday was cylindrical in shape and placed inside steel rods inside the baggage. The bag also consisted of door locks, air compressors and steel rods.